by Scott Elliott, PCI #915/EMSCI #198, Niagara Regional (ON) Police Service
There are many cycling glove manufacturers out there. There are various features that all cyclists want out of a glove. These include fit, features and performance. When you add the extra features required by police cyclists, such as protection and the ability to handle a firearm, you get a fairly specific product requisite.
Many of us are familiar with Hatch gloves as patrol gloves offering safety against sharp objects. It turns out that Hatch, via The Safariland Group, manufacture a wide range of gloves for police and other purposes.
The products I tested were the “SUB100 and SUBH100 Special Unit Bike” gloves. The gloves are very similar, the SUB100 being the full-finger version. Both have very minimal padding in the palm area and a thin knuckle and back-of-the-hand protection fitting called “Airprene”.
Cycling gloves are very individual to the user, much like a saddle. Simply put, these gloves worked for me, particularly while engaged in patrol duties. I tested the gloves both while in bike patrol mode and while riding my road and mountain bikes off-duty. The biggest plus feature for me was the thin and sparse padding on the palm. This initially seems counterintuitive, but it became an asset for two reasons.
First of all, I have long suffered from numbness in my hands, especially while riding long distances. I have purchased other gloves in the past that have promised to eliminate this and have not delivered. Perhaps I have an odd ulnar nerve location in my hand, but any glove I have tried that has extra padding designed to relieve pressure on the nerve seems to aggravate the problem. I found that the minimal padding on the Hatch gloves actually reduced the numbness. It did not eliminate it entirely, but I’m not convinced any glove would achieve this for me.
The second asset is handling of a firearm. I tested both gloves while on the firing range. I had no issues with drawing, discharging or manipulating my issued Glock pistol. My instinctive quick draw and fire without aiming hit area did not change at all. The full-finger version includes tiny silicone pads on the ends of all four fingers. I found this greatly increased my confidence in my grip, and the palm padding did not alter my hand position on the pistol at all. With the same padding on the half-finger model and bare fingers to manipulate and hold the weapon, I experienced similar results.
An added bonus for the silicone pads is operation of a smart phone. I was able to conduct basic operation of my iPhone that was not possible wearing gloves without the pads. The operation possibilities are limited to basic phone use and opening of apps. Typing is still difficult on a virtual keyboard as the pads are not located on the ends of the fingers, but they do eliminate the need to pull your gloves off to answer your phone.
The gloves do fit snugly, so you may have to go up a size if other cycling gloves are tight on you. These gloves are also not appropriate for cold weather use as they offer little insulation value. They do have a terrycloth area on the thumbs for wiping your nose, but are meant for warmer climes or late spring to early autumn in colder areas.
Unfortunately, I did not get an opportunity to test the longevity of these gloves as my bike patrol was limited to teaching a couple of courses and limited riding off-duty due to other commitments and a crappy summer, weather-wise. However, they do appear to be solidly constructed with quality materials and double stitching. The current pricing on their website is $30 for the half finger and $31 for full finger. Overall, I rate these gloves as a solid value for the price, and the all-black colour and minimal padding lend themselves well to police cyclist use.
Visit http://www.safariland.com for more information or to purchase. The Safariland Group will be exhibiting at the 15th Annual IPMBA Conference this April in Chandler, Arizona.
Scott Elliott is a Patrol Supervisor and Bicycle Patrol Coordinator with the Niagara Regional Police Service in Canada. He is LEBA- and IPMBA-trained and has been an IPMBA Police Cyclist Instructor since 2006 and an EMS Cyclist Instructor since 2007. Scott is also qualified as a CanBike instructor and enjoys both road and mountain biking. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.